Author(s): Debra Webb
Published by Harlequin on March 1, 2020
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense
Format: ARC, eBook
Reading Challenges: Netgalley and Edelweiss, New Release
His disappearance changed her life forever.
Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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I am a huge fan of romantic suspense, therefore when the chance came for me to read and review Before He Vanished, I didn’t hesitate. This is the sixth book in the Winchester, Tennessee series, but there is no need to read the previous books prior to reading this one.
Halle is an investigative reporter who has been down on her luck. She lost her cushy job in Nashville and was forced to return home to Tennessee. She secured a job with the local newspaper; however, it could not compare to what she lost in Nashville. However, change came when she got the opportunity to write an article relating to the disappearance/kidnapping of her best friend, Andy Clark, twenty-five years ago.
Liam Hart received a copy of Halle’s article along with pictures of seven-year-old Andy Clark from an anonymous source. This had him flying to Winchester to seek answers regarding his resemblance to the boy in the pictures. What followed was a series of events that would not only place him and Halle in danger, but have him questioning his true identity.
Liam and Halle were wonderful characters. I enjoyed seeing them work together to solve a twenty-five-year-old mystery.
I felt for Liam. His frustration and denial leapt off the pages. It could not have been easy for him to discover that the life he had been living may have been based on lies.
This book hit all the right spots as far as the suspense aspect of the story was concerned. Mystery, intrigue and suspense permeated the pages, and it held me captive from start to finish. There was no mystery regarding Liam’s identity, however I kept turning the pages as I needed to know what happened all those years ago and who was preventing them from discovering the truth. I had my suspicions, which were close, but the revelation of the motives behind it all was shocking. Greed, power and jealousy are great motivators for criminal acts.
The mystery wrapped up nicely but the romance fell flat for me. It played a minor role which was not a problem, however I had a hard time believing the authenticity of the relationship given the situation they found themselves in and the time frame in which the events transpired. Furthermore, they had zero chemistry.
Overall, Before She Vanished was an enjoyable read and one I would recommend to fans of romantic suspense.
Read An Excerpt
The shower was like heaven on earth. Her body had needed the hot water so badly. Her muscles relaxed and she took her time, smoothing the soap over her skin and then shampooing her hair. She was grateful for the toiletry pack that included not only soap, shampoo and the usual, but disposable razors, as well.
By the time she was finished, her bones felt like rubber. She dried herself, slipped on underwear and the nightshirt and then used the hotel dryer to dry her hair. That part took the longest of all. When she exited the steamy bathroom the delicious aromas of room service had her stomach rumbling.
“Oh my God, that smells good.” She rushed to the table where the silver service sat. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I was waiting for you.” He joined her at the table.
Ever the gentleman.
Halle curled her feet under her in her chair while Liam removed the covers from the dishes. Fish, chicken, vegetables. He had ordered all sorts of dishes and they all looked amazing.
“I thought we’d try a little of everything.”
A bottle of white wine as well as a bottle of rosé had her licking her lips.
“I wasn’t sure which one you preferred.” He gestured to the iced-down bottles. “And I didn’t forget dessert.” The final lid revealed a heavenly-looking chocolate cake with fudge icing.
“I may die right now.” She wanted to taste it all.
“Eat first.” He placed a linen napkin over his lap and stuck his fork into a tiny, perfectly roasted potato. She watched him eat and it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. She didn’t fight it. Surrendered to instinct and that was how they ate. No plates, just taking whatever they wanted with a fork or fingers and devouring. They drank the wine and laughed at stories from their respective childhoods. From all the stories he’d told her, she could not wait to meet his sister, Claire.
By the time they were finished, she was feeling a little tipsy. The food was mostly gone and both bottles were drained. She felt more relaxed than she had in decades. They had discussed the day’s events and Burke and Austen—and Derrick. The man was still convinced she had a thing for Derrick. No way. She’d also told him what her mom had to say about any friends from Nashville the Clarks might have had, which was none who ever appeared at their door. She and Liam agreed that was somewhat unusual considering how social the Clarks had been in Winchester.
“You know,” she said, after polishing off the last of the wine in her glass, “I wrote you dozens of letters.”
She frowned and shook her head. “Andy.” Then she stared at him. “No. You. I mean you. Whatever you believe, I know you’re him.”
“Okay.” He laughed, his eyes glittering with the soft sound.
God, his mouth was sexy when he was relaxed. She put her hand to her mouth just to make sure she hadn’t said the words out loud.
“Tell me about the letters,” he prompted.
“I told you what was going on in Winchester. Who was doing what at school. I even put pictures with the letters.” She laughed. Placed her glass on the table. “It was silly, I know. But I wanted to still feel you and that was the only way I could.”
She blinked. He had moved. He was suddenly next to her, on his knees, staring into her eyes, and her breath caught.
“I don’t know if I’m this Andy you loved so much when you were a kid,” he said softly, so softly she shivered, “but I would really like to be the guy you care about now.”
Her heart swelled into her throat. She started to suggest that it was the wine talking, but it wasn’t. The truth was in his eyes. Those blue eyes she knew as well as her own. And despite her wine consumption, she was stone-cold sober as she considered what could happen between them tonight.
“I’m really glad, because I would hate to think I’m in this alone,” she confessed.
He kissed her so sweetly that tears stung her eyes. Then he stood and pulled her into his arms. He carried her to the nearest bed.
No matter what happened tomorrow, she would always cherish this night.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Netgalley and Edelweiss
- New Release